Binding together UNOCHA’s humanitarian goals and youth power
18 August 2022
Shuyi Song’s volunteering interest goes back to middle school when she started participating in many community and school volunteering activities.
In college, Shuyi continued volunteering but due to the nature of her bachelor's major in food engineering, she had to put herself in the lab for most of the day. Hence she didn't have a deep understanding of social development in the limited time.
Out of strong passion and craving for knowledge in social development and policy, Shuyi linked her volunteering interest to her professional research by turning to study social science in her master's study. During her graduate studies, Shuyi personally participated in poverty alleviation projects, research, and conferences, and gained opportunities to contact and cooperate with government departments and international organizations, like World Bank, UNDP, and UNICEF. Further contacts made her want to work with these international organizations to closely observe the decision-making and policy implementation in social development areas.
In 2021, China Youth Volunteer Association (CYVA) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) jointly organized the ‘China Youth Volunteer Overseas Service Program - Serving UN Agencies' project, and sent 24 Chinese youth volunteers to 14 UN agencies around the world for 6 months. As one of the volunteers, Shuyi was deployed to serve as International UN University Volunteer, Associate Humanitarian Affairs Officer with UNOCHA Indonesia in September 2021. Her 6-months' volunteering assignment was fully funded by China Young Volunteers Association. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the scheduled on-site assignment was changed to telecommuting.
During her six months at UNOCHA Indonesian office, Shuyi participated in various humanitarian coordination work, regular Humanitarian Country Team, and inter-cluster coordination group meetings, and took the lead on OCHA’s regional work on climate change. Working with colleagues from different countries around the world, she gained a deeper understanding of UNOCHA's work, volunteering services, cross-cultural communication, and social development. She was impressed by the friendliness and kindness of her teammates. To help her achieve her ambitions in social development, her supervisor and colleagues not only shared their rich work experience with her but also discussed her learning abilities, future work plan, and career development.
Shuyi has gradually integrated herself into the open and inclusive environment of UNOCHA, and into the team which showcases professionalism, equality, mutual help, friendship and upward mobility.
“Volunteering in international organizations is an opportunity to fully understand the world and a rare opportunity for growth. Endless distant places, countless people, all related to me," feels Shuyi.
Her supervisor, Victoria Saiz-Omenaca, OCHA - Head of Office, was all praise for her. In her words, “I am very pleased with Shuyi’s contribution to humanitarian work in Indonesia. She has quickly adapted to the fast-paced work environment and immersed herself in office assignments, almost immediately becoming a key member of our team. All of this happened during the difficult time of the pandemic, when we often had to work remotely. Shuyi made important contributions in the areas of humanitarian coordination, disaster preparedness and the humanitarian impact of the climate crisis. OCHA Indonesia is proud to share its values and principles with a young and energetic volunteer like Shuyi. I trust that she has gained important experience and skills that would be useful for her professional career. We have certainly benefited from her perspective, team spirit, knowledge, and dedication.”
Through the volunteering service, Shuyi realized that the current world order needs the power and contribution of the youth. Young students can actively participate in global governance and help more people in need, which is what Shuyi thinks is the most meaningful thing to do right now.
This article was prepared with the kind support of Online Volunteer, Kathakali Das Bhaumik.
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs